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NHS (U.K.) 

GI diet 'debunked' claims are misleading

Today, the Mail Online says, “The GI diet debunked: Glycaemic index is irrelevant for most healthy people”, explaining how “it doesn't matter if you eat white or wholewheat bread”.This is overgeneralised and misleading, so the diet certainly hasn't been "debunked".Glycaemic index (GI) measures how quickly foods containing carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels in the bloodstream. It’s used

Ibuprofen unlikely to extend life

The Daily Mirror today reports that, “taking ibuprofen every day could extend your life by up to 12 YEARS”. The Daily Express also has a similar front page headline, while the Mail Online suggests that these extra years would be of “good quality life”.If you read these headlines and felt sceptical, you’d be right to do so.The news has been extrapolated to humans, based on research in yeast

Shift workers more likely to report poor health

"Higher rates of obesity and ill-health have been found in shift workers than the general population," BBC News reports. These are the key findings of a survey into health trends among shift workers; defined as any working pattern outside of the normal fixed eight-hour working day (though start and finish times may vary).According to the survey (The Health Survey for England 2013), shift w

'Electromagnetic smog' unlikely to harm humans

The Daily Telegraph reports that “mobile phones are unlikely to harm human health”, adding to the ongoing, and often conflicting, coverage of the potential health impact of environmental exposure to what some commentators have called “electromagnetic smog”. This is a term used to refer to a mix of low-level magnetic fields that exist in the modern environment. This "smog" is not just generate

Fathers-to-be experience hormone changes

“Men suffer pregnancy symptoms too: Fluctuating hormones make fathers-to-be … more caring,” the Mail Online reports. A small US study found evidence of changes in hormonal levels that may make fathers-to-be more able to cope with the demands of fatherhood. The story comes from a study that looked at whether expectant fathers and their partners experience any changes in their hormone levels du

E-cigarettes could help some smokers quit

“E-cigarettes can help smokers quit or cut down heavily,” The Guardian reports. An international review of the evidence, carried out by the well-respected Cochrane Collaboration, found evidence that they can help some smokers quit.However, the available body of evidence was slim – just two randomised controlled trials (RCTs), involving around 950 participants. The two studies found that

Feeling 'young at heart' may increase lifespan

“Feeling young at heart wards off death, scientists find,” The Daily Telegraph reports. A UK study found that people who reported feeling younger than their actual age were less likely to die than those who reported feeling their actual age or older. The study in question asked almost 6,500 people in their 50s and over how old they actually felt, and followed them up over 99 months to identif

Yoga may help protect against heart disease

“Yoga could be as effective as cycling or brisk walks in reducing the risk of a heart attack or stroke,” The Guardian reports. Researchers have pooled the results of previous studies and report finding "promising evidence" of yoga’s health benefits, specifically in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), as well as metabolic syndrome.Compared to doing nothing, or interventions t

Political hardliners 'fitter' than 'fence sitters'

“Being an extremist is better for your health than holding moderate views,” the Mail Online reports. A very much tongue-in-cheek study presents evidence that “armchair socialists” and their right-wing counterparts (“armchair generals?”) are more active than those with more moderate political views.The study found that people at both ends of the political spectrum – left and right – were mo

Spicy food 'curries favour' with alpha males

“Men who like spicier food are 'alpha males' with higher levels of testosterone,” The Daily Telegraph reports. A small French study found an association between a preference for spicy foods and elevated testosterone levels; but no evidence of a direct link. Testosterone is a steroid hormone that in popular culture has long been associated with male virility. Men with high levels of testostero

Could a '10 to 6' working day help you sleep better?

A major new study of American workers has recommended “later start times to improve on health,” the Mail Online reports. To improve people’s sleep patterns the research team suggested work start times could be moved later, such as 10am. This was just a suggestion, and was not backed up with any new evidence from this study itself.This research didn’t actually look at any health effects of

Memory gaps in graduates a 'stroke warning sign'

“People with memory problems who have a university education could be at greater risk of a stroke,” BBC News reports. The hypothesis is that the gaps in memory could be the result of reduced blood flow to the brain, which may then trigger a stroke at some point in the future. Researchers documented memory complaints and occurrences of stroke in a group of 9,152 adults aged over 55 living in t

Almost half of all adults take prescription drugs

“Half of women and 43% of men in England are now regularly taking prescription drugs,” BBC News reports. The figures have come to light as part of a new survey into drug prescribing patterns. According to the survey (The Health Survey for England 2013), commonly prescribed medications included:*cholesterol-lowering statins *medications used to treat high blood pressure, such as ACE inhi

Food additive that could reduce appetite

“Appetite suppressing additive could be added to food to create 'slimming bread'," ITV News reports. This reports on a study that showed that short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are released from gut bacteria as they break down dietary fibre. These SCFAs then stimulate the release of hormones that signal to the brain that we are full. The problem is that many people don’t eat a high-fibre diet

Gene therapy could help with inherited blindness

"Procedure to restore sight in dogs gives hope for future blindness cure," The Independent reports. Researchers have restored some modest degree of light sensitivity (though not full vision) in animals who have a similar condition to retinitis pigmentosa. Retinitis pigmentosa is an umbrella term for a group of human inherited eye conditions, affecting around 1 in 4,000 people, in which the

Academic hype 'distorting' health news

"Science and health news hype: where does it come from?," The Guardian asks. A new study suggests a lot of the hype comes from academics themselves, or at least their press offices, as many press releases contain exaggerations. Researchers looked back at all health-related press releases issued by 20 major UK universities during 2011.They found many spurious health news reports were based

Around 1 in 10 maternal deaths due to flu

“Nearly one in ten pregnant deaths caused by flu,” The Daily Telegraph reports. A review into maternal deaths, which thankfully remain rare, found that conditions such as the flu and sepsis account for many of the deaths. Maternal deaths are deaths in women that occur during their pregnancy or within six weeks after the end of their pregnancy.Other headlines prompted by the review included th

Hopes for chemicals that turn 'bad' fat 'good'

"Scientists discovered how to trigger a molecule which can turn 'bad' white fat cells into 'good' energy-burning brown fat cells," The Daily Telegraph reports, saying that it could "replace the treadmill". But this proof of concept lab research didn't involve any humans.White fat is what most people think of when they are talking about fat – it stores energy, adds bulk to the body, and too mu

Lack of sleep linked to negative thinking

“Feeling anxious? Go to bed earlier: Getting more sleep really can calm the mind,” reports the Mail Online. However, if you’re more of a "glass half-empty" sort of person, the headline could have read “feeling anxious affects your sleep” – which is an equally valid interpretation of the same results.A study of 100 university students has found that shorter sleep and delayed ability to get

Text alerts 'help prompt people to take their pills'

"A text messaging service could help people remember to take the medicines they have been prescribed," BBC News reports, after a small trial scheme in London helped increase drug adherence in people with cardiovascular disease.Lack of adherence – not sticking to a recommended treatment plan – is a known problem in some people with chronic diseases, such as heart disease. The BBC reports up

Obesity could 'rob you' of 20 years of health

"Obesity knocks 20 years of good health off your life and can accelerate death by eight years," the Mail Online reports. A study has estimated very obese men aged 20 to 39, with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or above, have a reduced life expectancy of eight years. This is as a result of their higher risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. For women of this age, the life expecta

More breastfeeding 'would save NHS millions'

"Increase in breastfeeding could save NHS £40m a year," The Independent reports after a recent economic modelling study projected a reduction in childhood diseases and breast cancer rates would lead to considerable savings for the health service. Proven key benefits – and potential savings – associated with breastfeeding a baby include a reduced risk of bowel infection (gastroenteritis), lowe

Drug found to help repair spinal cord injuries

“Renewed hope for patients paralysed by spine injuries,” The Independent reports. This hope is due to the possibility of developing a new drug based on a molecule called intracellular sigma peptide. The drug helped restore varying degrees of nerve functions in rats that had spinal cord injuries.The spinal cord is a cable of nerve cells that transmits signals from the brain to the rest of t

Nitrate-rich leafy greens 'good for the heart'

“Leafy vegetables contain chemical nitrate that improves heart health,” the Mail Online reports. In a recent study, researchers looked at the effects of a nitrate-rich diet on rats.Nitrate is a chemical that can react to a number of different substances in a range of ways. For example, it can be used as a fertiliser or as the active ingredient in a bomb. Some nitrates are used as medication f

Do time-restricted eating habits reduce obesity?

“Want to lose weight? Eat all your food in an eight-hour time frame – and never snack at night,” reports the Mail Online. However, these tips are based on a mouse study – no humans were involved.Nearly 400 mice were studied in a series of experiments for up to 26 weeks. Sets of mice were given unrestricted 24-hour access to high-fat food, high-fat and high-sugar food or low-fat, high-fruit su

NICE recommends home births for some mums

Home births have dominated the UK media today, following the publication of guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on the care of healthy women and their babies during childbirth. The main talking point was the recommendation that women thought to have a low risk of pregnancy complications would be better served by giving birth at home or at a midwife-led unit,

Weight loss surgery 'not a quick fix' for good health

"Weight loss surgery isn't just a quick fix to becoming healthy – you have to exercise too," the Mail Online reports. Weight loss surgery, such as fitting a gastric band, usually results in significant weight loss. But this weight loss doesn't automatically lead to improvements in important markers for metabolic health, such as insulin sensitivity. A low level of insulin sensitivity is a

HIV evolving into less deadly form

“HIV is evolving to become less deadly and less infectious,” BBC News reports. A new study showed that HIV adapts to a person’s immune system, and that some of these adaptations may reduce the virulence of the virus. The research team looked specifically at HIV in Botswana and South Africa. It found that over time, human immune system proteins, in addition to the use of HIV drugs, may have

Can a pill cure binge drinking and dementia?

"'Wonder' drug could cure binge drinking, Alzheimer's and dementia," the Mail Online reports. But before you raise a glass or two, these are premature claims based on research in rats that has not yet been proven, or even tested, in people.Researchers gave rats alcohol to mimic the habits of human binge drinking. After three weeks of binging, the rats had signs of damage to their brain and pe

HIV drug may slow the spread of prostate cancer

“A drug used to treat HIV infection can slow the spread of prostate cancer, research has shown,” The Independent reports. The news centres on the drug maraviroc (Celsentri), which researchers have found may slow the spread of prostate cancer into the bone and brain in early tests in mice.Each man’s prostate cancer can progress in different ways. Many cases grow slowly, and the cancer remai


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